Hugh McGonigle - Hall of Fame 2015
Hugh McGonigle Citation
Tonight, the Shamrock Gaels club is truly delighted to honour one of the true greats of the game, Hugh Mc Gonigle, by inducting him into our Hall Of Fame.
Hugh becomes only the second inductee into the Shamrock Gaels Hall Of Fame, joining the late Frank White, who was inducted in 2012.
Hugh’s enjoyed early success in his Gaelic football career when he won the 1954 Primary Schools Championship with Riverstown National School when they defeated the much vaunted St. John’s school from Sligo in the final. This competition was essentially a forerunner to the Under 14 grade. Hugh’s brother, Padraig, featured on this team, as did Paddy Joe Quigley, who is also with us here tonight. At the time this was a huge achievement for a small rural school such as Riverstown and was just reward, as they had contested the previous three finals against St. John’s and lost all three. This was a great year all round for juvenile football in Riverstown, as they also won the U16 and Minor county titles.
Around this time the Knocalassa club did not have a formal under-age structure as such and the under-age teams were in the main organised by the late Johnny Mc Morrow, Guard Phil Mc Mahon and Frank Mc Dermott. The Mc Gonigle brothers and Paddy Joe were also members of the Minor team to win a county Minor title in 1956, where they defeated Gurteen on a scoreline of 3-2 to 2-1.
Hugh went on to attend Summerhill College, where he captained the Senior team in his 5th Year – at this time, St. Jarlath’s of Tuam were the dominant force in colleges football in Connacht.
From Summerhill, Hugh studied Arts at NUIG, or UCG as it was known at the time and in 1960 was a prominent member of the UCG team that captured the Sigerson Cup, defeating the reigning champions, UCD on a scoreline of 1-9 to 2-3. This game, which was played in Belfast, was memorable for being played throughout in a heavy fog.
Following on from this, Hugh had the honour of captaining the UCG team that won the 1962 Sigerson Cup by defeating UCC in the final on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-3. This UCG team included the late Enda Colleran, who would subsequently captain Galway in two of their famous three-in-a-row All Ireland titles. In that same year, Hugh was also appointed captain of the Irish Universities team and played full-back in an exhibition match in Croke Park against the reigning All-Ireland Champions, Kerry.
During his time in UCG, Hugh also won two Galway Senior League titles with the college, both victories coming against a Tuam Stars team that featured the legendary Sean Purcell and Frank Stockwell. Hugh represented his native county with distinction during this period and was considered an automatic choice on the Sligo team. He made his Connacht Championship debut at full-back in the 1961 Championship, when Sligo went down to a fancied Roscommon team. The following year, 1962, Sligo drew with Mayo in the first round and went on to win the replay. The Irish Press report on this game - which was Sligo’s first win over Mayo in the Championship since 1948 – reported that ‘full-back Hugh Mc Gonigle proceeded to play a blinder and raid after raid was hurled back’. Unfortunately, Sligo lost the subsequent semi-final in heart breaking circumstances to a Roscommon team that went on to be beaten by Kerry in the All Ireland Final.
In 1963, Hugh was selected on the Connacht Railway Cup panel, which included those other giants of the Sligo game, Mickey Kearins and Brendan Mc Cauley.
When circumstances allowed, Hugh also played with his own club, Knockalasa, throughout the 1960’s and whilst this was not a particularly successful era for Knockalassa, it was notable for some memorable tussles with their neighbours and great rivals, Sooey.
Following his graduation from UCG, Hugh spent two years serving as a lay missionary in Nigeria – Francis Kearns from Gleann was part of this missionary group.
Returning to Ireland to embark on a career as a National School teacher, Hugh subsequently married Una Casey from Coolbock and they settled in Lucan and had two children Niall & Kevin.
Hugh became a prominent member of the highly successful Lucan Sarsfields club and in addition to being involved in the administration of the club, he has also coached many under-age club teams from Under 8 all the way up to Minor. Given his proud association with his native county, it has been of particular satisfaction to Hugh to have two Sligo county men, Philip Greene and Tommy Brennan, play for Lucan Sarsfields.
Reflecting his abiding love for his native county, Hugh also served as Treasurer of the Dublin based ‘Friends Of Sligo Football’, which succeeded in raising enormous sums of money over its years in existence to assist with furthering the Association in Sligo.
Given his long and distinguished record of service to the GAA in Sligo and on a wider national stage, it is indeed a privilege for us as a club to be able to call Hugh ‘one of our own’ and we are therefore immensely proud tonight to formally induct Hugh Mc Gonigle into the Shamrock Gaels Hall Of Fame.
A dhaoine uaisle, is mór an onóir dúinn, ar son cumann Gaeil na Seamróige an onóir speisialt seo a thabhairt chuig an fear mór seo, Hugh Mc Gonigle.
Ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding as we salute and honour one of the greats of the game and a true Gael, HUGH MC GONIGLE.